Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out With Surreal In With Real Encounters

Merriam-Webster's 2016 word of the year is surreal = "marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream"

May 2017 bring encounter = "to come upon face-to-face; to come upon or experience especially unexpectedly"

Encounter God and others! My one resolution!! Happy new year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016


Although the Year of Mercy has officially ended, the mission of mercy remains at the heart of the Christian vocation.  Motivated by our desire to work for authentic peace, a peace which can often only be achieved through heroic acts of mercy, the friars covered the song, “Brother,” by The Brilliance.  You are invited to read the reflection and then have “Brother” accompany you as you invite the Lord to speak to, and work in, your heart.

AUTHENTICITY.  As a young man I hungered for it.  I imagine that most men and women hunger for it.  As a young man, I also hungered for hamburgers with authentic, all-beef patties, tomatoes, pickles, onions and a side of fresh cut french fries.  As providence would have it, it was while trying to satiate the latter hungerthat the Lord began feeding my deeper desire for authenticity.  
I was eating with a couple of friends. We had just finished having a young adult meeting at the church and wanted to go grab a bite.  One of the guys, knowing that I was discerning, mentioned this group of Franciscans who were “hardcore.”  They had long beards, wore patched up habits, and slept on the floor.  Immediately I was hooked.  I went home that night and did a web search for the friars.  I found our website, read the constitutions, and looked at the pictures.  I thought to myself, “these guys are the real deal.”  If they look like that, they must be authentic.
I was young and idealistic.  In many ways I still am.  I have, however, in my seven years as a friar, learned a little bit about life in general, and religious life in particular.  I learned that growing a beard, wearing a habit, and sleeping on a mattress on the floor are actually pretty easy.  These external signs are what the Lord used to bring me in the door, but I’d like to share an experience which the Lord used to prepare me to make my final vows—to say, I want to be a part of this group forever.  
I was living in Honduras at the time and six of us friars had just spent some time on a fraternal trip.  I was driving home in one of our dusty old pick-up trucks with two other friars.  The bed of the truck was filled with our bags, supplies for Mass, and a couple of coolers that we used to transport food for our weekend away.  In true Franciscan fashion, we began having car troubles.  An unexplainable ping could be heard under the hood.  We pulled over and began to wait for the cavalry to arrive.  We did not have a cell phone to call the other brothers to let them know what happened, but luckily there was only one road home and our truck had left first.  As five minutes became ten minutes and ten minutes became twenty minutes, the Lord planted a little thought in my head, “Now would be a great time to go to confession.”  So, I asked one of the friar-priests if he would be able to hear my confession.
We dropped down the back hatch of the truck and sat down.  He put on his purple stole, made the sign of the cross, and I went to confession.  After a couple of minutes, he gave me absolution.  As Father began to take his stole off, the other friar-priest came over and said he wanted to go to confession too.  I made my way to the cab of the truck to thank the Lord for the mercy I had received and to beg him to help me amend my life.  Through the rear view mirror, I could see the two priests talking, one as the confessor, one as the penitent.  Finally, I saw the confessor make the sign of the cross.  Then, to my surprise, I saw the friar-confessor pass his stole to the friar-penitent, and the roles were reversed.  The priest who had just heard two confessions, now began going to confession!
At the time, I was a few months away from making my final vows.  It’s a time when a lot of thoughts pass through a friar’s mind.  As I sat in the cab of the truck and watched my brothers confess their sins to one another, I knew I could joyfully call these my brothers for the rest of my life.  At the end of the day, I wasn’t looking to join a bunch of tough guy-super heroes.  I was looking for a fraternity built upon the solid rock of mercy.  May God’s mercy, a mercy which we receive from him and then share graciously with others, be the mark of our authenticity.   

you sent your Son as the savior of the world,
may we receive the grace this day
to humbly ask for and receive your forgiveness
that we may be given the strength to forgive those who have offended us
and so build the universal Christian family
upon the firm foundation of your love and mercy.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Two Great Christmas Homilies


Christmas Midnight Mass homily by Fr. Agustino Torres, CFR
"It was a brutal day on that first Christmas. The drops of sweat from Saint Joseph's brow fed the weary earth that groaned for its redeemer..."


Christmas morning Mass homily by Fr. Solanus Benfatti, CFR


Google Play


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Forgiveness is the garment of our courage

Although the Year of Mercy has officially ended, the mission of mercy remains at the heart of the Christian vocation.  Motivated by our desire to work for authentic peace, a peace which can often only be achieved through heroic acts of mercy, the friars covered the song, “Brother,” by The Brilliance.  You are invited to read the reflection and then have “Brother” accompany you as you invite the Lord to speak to, and work in, your heart.

DAD.  That was the name of my first hero.  I guess that’s what I always thought dads were for.  As I grew, so did my “hero-shelf” making room for policemen and firemen and Power Rangers and, of course, Walker Texas Ranger.  As I entered my sports phase, Walker was joined by a different type of Cowboy, Troy Aikman, as well as other great athletes:  Jerry Rice, Steve Young, “Penny” Hardaway, and Chipper Jones.  My sports phase matured into my saints phase.  The autographed memorabilia came down and up went pictures of Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.   Greatness has always spoken to me.  It still does.  What I recognize as greatness, however, has changed.

I’d like to share about a more recent addition to my list of heroes.  Her name is Gabriela*.  Her Central American home is constructed of concrete blocks, a cement floor and tin roof.  She is in her early-twenties and is paralyzed from the waist down.  When Gabriela was still a teenager, her ability to walk was taken from her by a bullet.  The bullet was shot out of the gun of a teenage boy trying to rob her.  He ended up not only robbing her of the money in her purse, but the treasures of her heart: the priceless hopes and dreams which are proper to young life.  

Following this tragedy, the friars began visiting Gabriela on a regular basis.  While living in Central America I had this privilege on a number of occasions.  I would bring her the Eucharist and then spend some time chatting with her.  During one of these visits, she began to share with me some of the details of her story.  Speaking of the incident which had happened years ago still had the power to bring tears to her eyes.  The physical and emotional pain was still very real.  She went on to explain that she knew the young man who did this to her and that a wound hurts all the more when it is inflicted by someone you know.  In Gabriela’s life pain, evil, and resentment would not have the last word.  In the midst of all this suffering, she said, with absolute sincerity, that she had forgiven the one who did this to her.   

This is greatness.

Now, no one is going to make Gabriela action figures, or ask for her autograph.  Her name will probably never be listed among the canonized saints.  Yet, she is my hero.  In her courage, she reveals to me the greatness for which I long, the greatness which I cannot achieve on my own, but Christ can work in me.  If Jesus at work in Gabriela can give her the courage and strength to forgive her attacker, certainly he can give me the courage and strength needed to forgive and pray for those who hurt me.     

you who sent your Son to reconcile the world to yourself, strengthen me with your Spirit that as I attempt to pray for those who have hurt me and forgive those who have trespassed against me, my efforts may not be limited to my own strength, but may always be aided by the power of your Spirit at work in me.

Thursday, December 8, 2016



Community of Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
Community Office
420 East 156th Street
Bronx, New York  10455

718-402-8255  Fax: 718-402-5556


For Immediate Release
December 8, 2016

Contact: Br. Angelus Montgomery, CFR: 914-965-8143


With gratitude to the Most High God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and St. Francis, and with heartfelt appreciation to our Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Franciscans of the Renewal rejoice on this day, December 8, 2016, for having received notice from Rome in being granted recognition as a religious institute of pontifical right. The decree was signed by his Eminence, João Cardinal Bráz de Aviz, Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and his Archbishop Secretary, José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, on 13 June 2016, Feast of St. Anthony of Padua. 

The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal were founded in 1987, in the Archdiocese of New York, when eight American Capuchins desired a form of Franciscan life dedicated specifically to service of the poor and evangelization. The group was established as an institute of diocesan right by Cardinal John O’Connor in 1999. Currently, there are about 100 perpetually professed members of the institute serving in 10 dioceses and archdioceses, in six countries, committed to the mission of serving the poor and most vulnerable, and passionately preaching the Gospel in the New Evangelization.

The Holy See describes the Institute’s charism: “After the manner of St. Francis of Assisi, the friars seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, as a prophetic witness that life is a pilgrimage to the Father, of faith, hope, and love of God and neighbor, made possible by the Holy Spirit. They participate in Christ’s renewal of all things through their prayer, fraternal life, service of the poor, and evangelization, as a complement to the work of those whose mission is to serve parochially.”

Fr. John Paul Ouellette, the General Servant (superior), expressed his thoughts: “After having been nurtured so faithfully by the Archdiocese of New York throughout these years, most recently in the person of His Eminence, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and now receiving this confirmation of our charism of renewal from our Holy Father, Pope Francis, we now commit ourselves ever more urgently and zealously to the living out of our consecrated life, in faithful prayer, devoted fraternity, and service to the most poor and needy among us. Please pray with us in praise and gratitude to God, on this special occasion, for his continued blessings on our Community and His Church.”


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Lost Because You Were Hiding

Podcast from Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR. Will the real Santa Claus please stand up? An Advent reflection on what we do when God comes. Like Adam and Eve will we hide? Sin is what makes us lost, mercy is what makes us found. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who comes in sheep's clothing as the Lamb of God. He invites us formerly lost sheep to join in the search for the lost ones.


Google Play


Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent: Death at the Center

Podcast from Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR. From the first Sunday of Advent. As we prepare for the coming of the Lord, the secret center of Advent is death - when the Lord will come for us. Listen to learn more!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Get Right or Get Left

Podcast from Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR. God calls us to live in reality. At the end of time Judge Jesus will sit in the center of humanity. He will divide us all, saved sheep on his right and grievous goats on his left.


Google Play


Thursday, October 13, 2016

What the End of the World Means for Me

Podcast from Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR. How would you play the game if you knew that you were already on the winning team? There is a rhyme and reason to all of history, including your own. The grace of God is the coherence to everything we will go through, it will be clear at the end of time. Faith helps us to live now from the perspective of our eternity.

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Silence Our Greatest Need Podcast

Silence is not an absence of noise. Rather, real silence contains a fullness that can reveal to us the presence of God. Being silent before God is a form of worship, a reverent disposition before God who is ultimately beyond all words, language and concepts. In a mysterious way, it is silence that best expresses who God is. On the surface level during silent prayer there are distractions, fears and anxieties that surface. However, despite what is happening on the surface the disciple of silent prayer intends to cultivate a longing, desire, openness, trust and love for God that is expressed not with many words but with a receptive heart. Hence, silent prayer is not navel gazing, Eastern meditation or simply being lazy, but intimate relationship with God. In short, silent prayer is standing naked before God. Our example for this kind of prayer is Jesus himself, who often spends the whole night in prayer, goes out to the desert or hills to pray and who tells us when we pray not to be “overly wordy” in the hopes that God will only hear us if we pray with many words. The implication here is that prayer is not just about speaking to God or thinking about God, but that real deep prayer is a way of being with God and perhaps the most profound way to “be with God” is in silence, with little or no words.

+ Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR
Monticello, NY

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Both Comfort and Conviction

Why the chasm was impassable and why we were given the name of the poor man (really surprising) ...


Podcast from Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR. Jesus' message of mercy is both comforting and convicting at the same time. How we treat our neighbor in this life will set how God treats us in the next. He loves us, wants us all in heaven, and gives each the sufficient grace needed. The rest us up to our use of free-will...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Taking the Terror out of Terrorism

I am so thankful to be alive today.

I recently hosted a priest friend from out of town. He took me to dinner in the Chelsea area of the city. We were at the exact location where the recent bomb exploded. We missed being victims by 16 hours. Just before dinner we had visited the 911 Memorial Museum. I am in shock. If you have ever had a close call with death, you ask yourself a question: Am I ready?

Jesus calls us to radical readiness, to live each day as if it is our last. This is the secret to taking the terror out of terrorism. If we put our relationship with God in first place, and everything else in perspective to God, then we will not be afraid. This is easier said than done!

Brothers and sisters, small steps in great love will get us there. We are in the hands of our loving Father. The devil wants us to forget this reality. Join me in asking God for the grace to be ready, today. Here are two passages from sacred scripture and a link to my homily from today:


Jesus said, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Matt 10:28-31).

Jesus said, "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also" (John 14:1-3)

+ Fr. Luke Mary Fletcher, CFR
Yonkers, NY

Monday, September 12, 2016

Podcast God's Wisdom

Podcast from Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Pencil in the Hands of God

It has been just a simple surrender, a simple yes’ to Christ in allowing Him to do what He wants.  The hand tells the pencil and the pencil obeys.  That is why the work is His work.  I’m just a little pencil in His hand.  Tomorrow, if He finds somebody more helpless, more stupid, more hopeless, I think He will do still greater things with her and through her.


My own Jesus, do with me as You wish – as long as You wish without a single glance at my feelings and pain.  I am your own.  Imprint on my soul and life the sufferings of Your Heart.

- Saint Teresa of Calcutta


Born: August 26, 1910

Died: September 5, 1997

Beatified: October 19, 2003 by Pope Saint John Paul II

Canonized: September 4, 2016 by Pope Francis

in the Holy Year of Mercy


© 2016 Community of the Franciscans of the Renewal


www.franciscanfriars.com | fromthefriars.blogspot.com



The pencil image in front is an adaptation from the photo of Marie Constantin © 2003 drawn by Bro. Diego Joseph, CFR on the occasion of Saint Teresa of Calcutta’s canonization


Sunday, September 4, 2016

Saint Teresa of Calcutta

We have Holy Father Saint Francis, Holy Mother Saint Clare and Holy Aunt Mother Teresa. Many of our friars, especially Fr. Benedict Groeschel, were friends and counselors to Mother Teresa.

They met with her when they left the Capuchin Franciscans to start our new renewal community. She told us, "When you uncover something of the will of God, remain faithful to it!" Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!!!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Can God Disappear?

You feel as if God has disappeared from your life.  Years ago you would spend hours in prayer and service without any problems or concerns.  But now an incredible darkness has engulfed you.   You no longer can feel his presence.  You feel alone, abandoned and are beginning to doubt whether the past was just a dream.  Prayer now leaves you not with a sense of God’s presence, but with a sense of your own poverty and need.  Serving others once left you feeling joyful and full of hope, but now you are discouraged because of the brokenness of other people and it is difficult to find the motivation to keep going.

Where has God gone?  Is it possible for him to disappear? Perhaps the one who is disappearing is you; your childish ways of relating to God, yourself and other people, your inordinate desire for affirmation and consolation are becoming purified through a genuine encounter with the Living God.  Since God is no longer a “felt presence” in your life you are left wondering if God has disappeared. Let me assure you, it would be easier for the ocean to dry up than for God to disappear.
Every genuine encounter with God begins with a “honeymoon” stage but as we draw closer to him the honeymoon fades into the background, so that real love can begin to blossom independent of our feelings, emotions and life circumstances.  God, like love, is more than a feeling.  To mature and become the person God desires you to be, you cannot make judgments and conclusions entirely from your feelings and emotions.   
Maybe, like you said, you have hit a wall, but on the other side of that wall God is waiting for you.  In order to get there you have to leave your childish ways of thinking and judging behind you and trust that God’s grace is inviting you to something more.  What exactly is that “more?”  It is God himself; greater and more profound than you can fathom.  The most important thing is not to give up.  In other words keep praying, trusting, hoping, and believing.  Or in the words of St. Paul “press on…because Christ Jesus has made (you) his own" (Phil 3:12).

+ Fr. Jeremiah Shryock, CFR
Monticello, NY
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Begin at the End - Mary's Assumption

Begin at the End - What we learn from Mary’s Assumption! Homily from Fr. Luke Fletcher to the CFR seminarians at the start of the school year.


Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Podcast: Why Are You Afraid?


Podcast from Fr. Jeremiah, CFR

Most of our fears are the result of believing a story that simply is not true. Jesus' question "Why are you afraid?" confronts us with the many lies we have believed about ourselves, other people and God. It is only by looking at Him, who is reality and truth, that we can overcome our fears and experience the freedom that is ours as children of God.

Monday, August 1, 2016

New Website for European Region

Rebuild My House

The Friars in the European Region have launched a new Vocation Web-Site:


Enjoy the Video and check out the web-site...more updates to come! Our hope is to support those discerning our way of life to discover the Lord's Will for them and to respond joyfully to his invitation.

Also check out this new vocations video!


EUROPE - Catholic men in their 30's or younger who are discerning a possible vocation:
If you are interested in finding out more about the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal or would like to plan a vocation visit, please contact:  

Fr. Gabriel Joseph Kyte, CFR
St. Pio Friary
Sedgefield Terrace
Westgate, Bradford

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Podcast Vocation: God's Plan For You

Our vocation is the plan God has for our life. Often times though when we hear the word "vocation" we automatically think about marriage, priesthood, religious life or living as a single person in the world. Before that vocation can occur there is another vocation that we all must be aware of and follow. For each one of us our primary vocation is following Jesus and from that following of Jesus we will be led to the place where God wants us to live out this vocation.

- Fr. Jeremiah, CFR


Tuesday, June 21, 2016



Jacob's Song by Brother Isaiah. A Spirit Juice Studios production. Want more from Brother Isaiah? Get his new EP, Broomstick, on iTunes, Amazon, and more! (A portion of all proceeds go to help single mothers in need of assistance.) Looking for a hard copy of Broomstick? Send an email to renewalinmotion@gmail.com and we'll take care of you.

Get this song & others:

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Father's Day

Fathers are like powerful stained glass windows. They are earthly images of a heavenly reality. "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" Ephesians 3:14-15

See you in Church! Photo by Jeffrey Bruno

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Woman at the Well: Jn 4: 7-30

It’s a strange ending to a beautiful dialog. After meeting Jesus, the woman at the well runs back into Samaria exclaiming: “Come, see the man who told me everything I ever did!” Why did it touch her so deeply that Jesus knew her faults and her sins? On the surface she perceived him to be a prophet and he revealed himself to be the Messiah, yet it was more than these bare facts that moved her. It was, I believe the tenor of his voice and the look of his eyes and his promise of life giving water. More than believing him to be the Savior, this woman found him to be a Savior who loved her personally and deeply.

Yes, Jesus told her everything she ever did. What moved her, though, was that in all of it, he loved her. Jesus loved her for who she was upon their meeting. And He had more for her! While she wanted only water that would make her thirst again, he loved her so much that he desired to give her water that would well up unto eternal life. This is the fascinating reality of God’s love. It is extravagant, beyond our expectations. When it hits us, it surprises us because we’ve done nothing to deserve it nor could we ever have imagined it.

Jesus is able to pierce through the crusty exterior of her heart into its fleshy center where his light becomes the source of the living waters which flow clearly and warmly through the soul. In their dialog at the well, each heart was laid open to the other. Again, I think what surprised the woman wasn’t just that Jesus knew all about her, but that knowing it, he loved her deeply and desired everything beautiful for her—the most beautiful thing, of course, being the happiness of her heart: her salvation.

+ Br. Joseph Michael Fino, CFR

Bronx, NY


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